these three Americans have been held by FARC in Colombia since February 13, 2003:
Gonsalves, Stansell and Howes were doing drug surveillance for the Department of Defense when they were taken hostage in February. The single-engine plane carrying them and two other men crashed in a remote, mountainous region south of Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Almost four years later they are still being held by FARC.
A US court found Colombian FARC rebel leader guilty of helping to hold 3 US men hostage.
The AP reported:
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Colombian rebel leader Ricardo Palmera was convicted Monday of helping hold three Americans hostage for years in jungle prison camps. He is the only person ever found responsible for their capture.
Palmera, who is better known by his nom de guerre, Simon Trinidad, is the most senior commander ever captured from Latin America’s largest rebel group. He was extradited to the United States in 2004 and charged with hostage and terrorism charges.
Palmera is a senior member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The force of about 12,000 fighters has battled the Colombian government for four decades and the U.S. government considers it a terrorist organization and a drug cartel.
While jurors found Palmera guilty of conspiracy to commit hostage-taking, they were split over whether to convict him of supporting terrorism. A federal judge sent them back to keep deliberating that charge and three counts of actual hostage-taking.
The three Americans — Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell — were civilian Pentagon contractors flying a surveillance mission over the Colombian jungle when their plane crashed in 2003 in a rebel stronghold. They were taken hostage and were most recently seen in late April.
Over a million COlombians took to the streets last week to protest the FARC kidnappings. FARC terrorists, who are known to be supported by the Chavez government, may be holding some 3,000 Colombians and foreigners hostage.